What to Expect in the First Year After you Adopt a Puppy

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Bringing a new puppy home to your family is an exciting, joyful process.

It can also be a time that leads to a lot of questions about proper puppy care. Over the next year of your life you’re going to watch your puppy grow from to a teenager to an adult. During this time, your puppy’s sleep schedule will change, what he eats will change and he’ll become the dog your family will have for years to come.

So, what should you expect over the first year of your puppy’s life? This article will recap some of our most helpful resources on raising your pup up right.

While this post is for those adopting or rescuing a puppy, we also have resources for those that are caring for newborn puppies from their dog. The first 8 weeks of a new puppies life with his littermates and mother are big determining factors in how his personality will be.

When to Bring your New Puppy Home

It is well-established among breeders and canine enthusiasts that puppies will exhibit a number of negative behaviors when taken from their dams and littermates before 8 weeks of age. The effect is sufficient for many breeders to refuse the relocation of puppies to their new home until they reach 8, 10, or even 12 weeks of age. This sentiment is echoed by veterinarians and researchers as well in an increasing number of studies. One such study found a correlation between the development of social anxiety and separation from the litter prior to 60 days of age. Many states even have laws that prohibit adoption before 8 weeks.

The First 24 Hours at Home with Your New Puppy

You will need to spend a few days with your puppy when he first comes home. This will help the two of you get to know each other as well as relieve some of his anxiety about being in a new home. It can be beneficial to bring your puppy home on a Friday afternoon if you have the weekend off. Ask his breeder or the rescue to give him a small meal several hours before you pick him up. If his tummy is empty, he’ll be less likely to get carsick. Have him ride home in his crate in your car. You might be tempted to have him ride on your lap, but that isn’t safe and it will give him the idea that this is how he will always ride in the car. He’s safer and will get into significantly less trouble in his crate.

When you get home, have plans in place to handle introductions to other family members, keep a close eye on him for the first 24 hours and start bonding.

Before you go to pick up your puppy, check out our checklist of what you’ll need. Make sure you have all the necessities including crate, food, collar, leash, and more.

What to Feed your New Dog

Whether you get the new puppy from a breeder or rescued him from a shelter or pound, it is a good idea to find out what the pup is eating there so that you can continue on the same nutritional theme, at least for the first few days.

Your new puppy is already having to cope with enough change as he transitions from his previous home, or even litter, to his new home environment. The last thing needed is a simultaneous diet change. Keeping the puppy’s food the same is one way to minimize the stress of the move. Before you take your puppy home, ask for a sample off the food he has been eating to get you through the first few days.

If you plan to change to another brand of food, do so after the first couple days and do it by gradually mixing it the new food into the old food. When choosing a food for your puppy, check the list of ingredients. Ingredients are generally listed in order of amount used, with the ones used most listed near the beginning. The first ingredient in puppy food should be meat. Puppies should be fed food that has a protein content of 25 to 30 percent, depending on the breed.

Cheaper puppy foods provide less nutrition, with most of the food passing right through the puppy’s body and not being absorbed. Premium brands are more expensive but they contain higher quality ingredients and are better for your puppy. Because premium puppy food has more beneficial ingredients for your puppy, they do not need to eat as much of it. If you are unsure which brand is best for your puppy, consult your veterinarian.


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